About this Show

U.S. Senate

News/Business.

NETWORK

DURATION
03:00:01

RATING

SCANNED IN
San Francisco, CA, USA

SOURCE
Comcast Cable

TUNER
Channel 91 (627 MHz)

VIDEO CODEC
mpeg2video

AUDIO CODEC
ac3

PIXEL WIDTH
704

PIXEL HEIGHT
480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

America 26, Us 26, Kohl 18, New Mexico 17, Michigan 16, Wisconsin 14, Washington 11, Tracy 9, United States 9, Herb Kohl 6, Pennsylvania 6, Mexico 6, Kyle 6, Mr. Toomey 5, Mr. Udall 5, Colorado 5, Arkansas 5, Milwaukee 5, U.s. 5, Mr. Harkin 4,
Borrow a DVD
of this show
  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    December 13, 2012
    9:00 - 11:59am EST  

9:00am
more about those possibilities because this could be a win-win for minority broadcasters. >> as you know, the existing ecosystem as relates to diversity, particularly with people of color and women, it's almost nonexistent. i mean, we are talking about single-digit ownership engagement. so that has always been, even before i got sworn in, has always been an interest of mine. and it's a concern of mine. as it relates to this current pathway, as it relates to incentive auctions. one of the things that i say all the time, and i'm very monotone and repetitive about it is these isn't a voluntary engagement. because of that, those, even though the numbers could be few, they do have an opportunity to participate in this framework. i am hopeful that they would take advantage of, consider any and all opportunities including sharing, existing programming cannot or will not be lost.
9:01am
>> and perhaps the tri-caucus could be helpful in providing information and opportunities, or encouraging some of our stations to participate. >> absolutely. as it relates to employment, this office has been engaged in a lot of principles and a lot of people in the ecosystem and i look forward to working with you on those issues. >> thanks. commissioner rosenworcel, just a follow-up to ms. matsui's question. whether specific incentives you had in mind or -- ierve on a task force and task force and we're discussing these with some of the government agencies, how they can reallocate, give it some of the spectrum. did you have some specific ideas about incentives? >> guess. for starters i want to say the task force the committee has set committee has set up on federal spectrum is a terrific idea.
9:02am
i appreciate it is bipartisan. the wireless revolution is here to stay. the demand on the airwaves are only going to continue to grow. as far as incentives for federal users, i think we need to create them so that they can be efficient, and they are inspired to return spectrum that we can auction it off for commercial uses. that could include financial rewards associated with the revenue from its subsequent auction for commercial use. it could also include structure rewards in the budget and appropriations process, and finally i think that these ideas are consistent with the idea of synthetic currency which was proposed by the president's council of advisors of science and technology. in their recent report on federal spectrum use. >> thank you. i guess my last question to the chairman, commissioner pai suggested june 30, 2013 as a deadline for the auction to is that a reasonable or an
9:03am
achievable date? >> i think i stand be corrected but i think 2014. >> 2014, sorry. >> so 2014 is when we're talking to a deep we will know more about what would maximize the benefits of the auction as comments coming. but we're certainly on a path to conduct the auction in 2014. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> gentlelady yield back the gentlelady yield back about summertime. chair recognizes the gentleman from kentucky for five minutes. >> i really appreciate the commissioners for being here today. i appreciate you taking the time to be. three questions. one for the chairman first. in the statute the language, the line which is in their, to preserve the contour of a current television signal. could you tell me what that phrase means to you? will that phrase be interpreted to mean that no more than a certain amount of -- [inaudible] and if so how much will that be? >> i think that's the kind of question when we have an obligation to run a process we
9:04am
are running different stakeholders and get input on the precise definition. the statute is clear, reasonable effort, and obligation is to comply with the statute. >> any personal interpretation of that? >> no. we have laid out i believe some proposed rulemaking but we will work closely with stakeholders in giving content to the congressional directive. >> commissioner pai, i was on the working group for a government spectrum, and congresswoman matsui and i led that effort and we took a deep dive into it. one thing will look around the issue of shared spectrum. in the 2012 report suggested we should move away from licensing and towards a greater reliance on spectrum sharing. my question for you is, are you aware of any commercial available product that is available today for use if we move towards a system of sharing? and to the extent that infrastructure devices are not currently built around the content should, what trade-offs might be speaks a great question and i think i'm not personally aware at this point that one of
9:05am
the things i do concerns about with respect to sharing is it's largely untested, untried endeavor that requires coordination among hundreds of users. one of the fierce as i pointed at i pointed out in my testament is that while larger players on the commercial side may be up for the challenge of doing that kind of coordination, some of the smaller players might not. i'm not opposed to innovative caching as i said again, geographic sharing for example, by creating exclusive zones can allow us to reuse the spectrum in places where federal users are not using it. i think by march our focus should be on clearing. i think an unencumbered right to spectrum creates maximum incentives for use on the commercial side to develop it and to deploy it in an efficient manner to the benefit of consumers. one of the things that i think we need to prioritize is not just sharing writ large or even sharing the into measure, clearing as the gold standard for our approach to federal
9:06am
spectrum in particular. >> thank you. >> thank you to them for commissioner mcdowell, also from the work of the working government spectrum working -- the gao recently reported that -- [inaudible] exclusively or predominantly used by federal government is its highest, and given federal agencies budgets many of these systems are not up-to-date and thus operate individually. would you discuss whether or not some of the federal uses could be served by commercial mobile private providers and how the federal spectrum could be operated more efficiently? so commercial also be -- government use and how would be most sufficient. >> this is something i've been talking about for years actually as the potential for off the shelf private sector solutions, including with a nationwide public safety network. i think it's going to have to be a must, 7 billion isn't going to cover it as the statute calls for. you are going to have to have off private sector technologies
9:07am
to help. but we don't know how to efficiently federal government is using spectrum. i think we can safely assume, however, that it's not using it terribly efficiently. and that's what i think congress really needs to step in here to try to make that hold world less opaque and more transparent, respecting spectrum and all the rest. but just make a more transparent and also to give federal spectrum users an incentive to relinquish their spectrum for exclusive use through auction as commissioner pai just pointed out. so that is, does provide the best incentive for buildout use of these frequencies. >> i've got a half and i guess basically. a question for commissioner pai anybody else who wants to respond to, was basically the commercial available products that -- [inaudible] or the likelihood of it happening?
9:08am
>> i would just point out that it's in the interest of both commercial sector and the military to develop incentives to get more commercial technologies into military use. the reason is there's a growing gap between the price and functionality of military communications director and commercial. it's getting larger because of the tremendous innovation on the commercial side. i've had a chance over the last months to speak directly senior officials in our military services, and i believe that there's real work going on to think about how to take advantage of commercial innovation on the military site more quickly, providing better to mutations to our troops at lower costs. >> i yield back. >> the gentleman he is back. the chair recognizes the gentleman from illinois, mr. rush. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and to the commissioners, happy holidays. i welcome you here to this hearing.
9:09am
you five commissioners, are five of the most important people in our nation. view five commissioners oversee networks, industries, millions that inform our democracy that are essential to protecting our freedoms. you are overseeing industry sections that make up more than one-fifth of our gdp, and employ tens of millions of our nation's workforce. however, i have been on this committee for about 17 years. and for those come each of those 17 years, i've seen a litany, or
9:10am
many, many commissioners come before us. to discuss minority ownership. and we seem to get more and more -- less promises but absolutely no performance. and i'm getting pretty fed up with this continuum of excuses that seem to come forth from the commission itself. i think it's about time now for you all to get serious about this issue of ownership. as a matter of fact, there has been, and i want to ask you a question, and each can answer this yes or no, answer.
9:11am
is it acceptable to each of you that their only 28 -- [inaudible] broadcasters owned by minorities in this country, yes or no? >> that's not acceptable. >> no. >> no. >> no. >> no. >> does the commissioner, commission now, for example, how many minority employees are in the broadcast news media industries? do you know that? >> i don't know the number off the top of my head. >> no. >> i don't have that informati information. >> no, i don't have that information right now. >> well, i'm also glad that you all postponed your rules, rule
9:12am
making on ownership because you did not know the impact of the proposed rules on minority ownership, and audiences. and so that leads me to another question that i have. but -- [inaudible] tax certificate policy to increase diverse ownership of special licensing? let me just give you some figures. in the 17 years of the fcc had the minority -- [inaudible] policy, that policy produced 364 tax certificate, and over
9:13am
200 million transactions, and transactions, totaling more than $1 billion in tax. that represented about two-thirds of all minority owned stations, when the policy, the tax certificate policy began, minorities owned about 40 of e85 hundred broadcast stations over its lifetime. the tax certificate policy helped raise that number to 333 stations. 290 radio stations, 43 tv stations. it also yielded 31 cablesystems are currently there are no minority owned cablesystems that
9:14am
are operating today. my question to you is, what do you believe, other than a new tax certificate policy could increase diverse ownership of broadcast licenses, giving the history of the tax certificate program -- [inaudible] in 1995? >> if i could, i agree with you on tax certificates and encourage the ongoing consideration of that. i mentioned several areas of potential. one is the order we adopted last month which will create new opportunities for minority and other broadcasters to get into the business at lower levels of
9:15am
capital can't answer for new entrants in the minority community i think that's an important opportunity. a second is the work that we've been doing under the leadership of tom reed in our office of medication business opportunities to try to bring together capital and minority women and other small business, entrepreneurs, very good work and i think, we'd for that worth the effort output to come the open internet order which keeps the internet at content media on the internet available for anyone around the country to develop a business and reach an audience, and we're seeing minority entrepreneurs take advantage of the platform, create online content businesses and then use that as a way to move to traditional media platforms. >> another gentleman some has expired, but if i could add to that, five years ago this month, december 2007, the commission voted out its historic diversity order.
9:16am
there were 13 items adopted, six were turned back by the federal appeals court in philadelphia, but sentenced to remain. i've been a longtime supporter of the tax certificate program but there's more that could be done. incubator programs, incentives and general to make it easier to convey stations from non-minority owners to minority owners. we often need policies that promote more access to capital. this is what's at the root of office. that's what the tax certificate program so helpful. so whatever -- we want to call them that promotes access to capital for minorities and disadvantaged business owners. >> number one of course is access. as my colleagues state is access to capital, but number two in terms of the fcc's jurisdiction, at this time, we do not have sufficient data in order to have a judicially upheld standard of framework, to me that framework,
9:17am
in order to move forward, in any narrowly tailored approach. so the studies fully funded studies to that end could help. >> if you want to go quick, and then we have -- >> very quickly, congressman. to ideas that don't depend on congressional action. one idea is an idea that i've endorsed with the minority media and telecommunications counsel, and that is increasing capital to -- more foreign investment in u.s. broadcast holding come with. currently broadcasting is the only industry where the fcc maintains a 25% cap which inadvertently limits the amount of capital in u.s. broadcasters, minority broadcasters in particular can get. secondly, i endorse in september what i call an am radio revitalization initiative. minority broadcasters in particular are disproportionate in the am band and it's been 21 years since we revisited our rule of the sec. so one of things i like it is
9:18am
revitalize the band but can't figure if there are any rules which inadvertently not, you know, stand in the way of greater minority ownership on the radio side. thank you, mr. chairman for your indulgence. >> a quick comment. >> if i understand, mr. chairman, that you haven't allocated the funds for this study speak as well, there's a steady -- >> to meet that standard. >> there's a steady ongoing which with allocated substantial funds. that's ongoing and we have request for funds in our 2013 budget that would allow us to move forward with the next round of studies. >> is enough money to complete its? >> i think the amount requested for 2013 is enough to complete it, yes. >> given almost twice as much time as anybody else, we will now move on to mr. stearns to wrap up our hearing. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, this is a very good hearing. [inaudible] >> chairman genachowski, just a question. when we passed a bill in
9:19am
february with this middle-class tax cut, i think as a recollect the figure, we're trying to give back or auction off about 26 billion, is that they give you a member? >> i think roughly that. >> based upon what you see now and your efforts so far, do you think that is feasible, we'll get that kind of money back? >> i action shared the characterization before which is we should be cautious, but certainly maximizing a generating a very potential amount of revenue to at least cover first met and beyond is an important part of our implementation of the statute. >> in your notice of proposed rulemaking, i think there was, there's some question i think an industry by some segments that they are worried about, when you go to different geographic locations, there's not enough specific information so that the
9:20am
repacking process is clear. and i guess, to minimize the extent of task of we packing for the broadcasters, i guess, have you done an analysis across the board on some geographic locations where the spectrum could be more broad and less narrow, some pluck that? doesn't make sense because well, congress into law instructed the fcc or have some language on how to calculate that is a reference to a the key, sir kunar 69 so we are now working with the congressional language as part of our proceeding, and to the point congressman markey made before, rolling up her sleeve rolling up her sleeve with the indian into broadcast industry industry and mobile industry to maximize the opportunity. >> so you say it's a formula that you're using? >> we haven't decided how we would do it. our job now is the element the statute that sets some guidance
9:21am
for the methodology for repacking spent should part of that be, part of the notice of proposed rulemaking so that they could understand what you're doing? or is this is going to be after the notice is over? >> the notice addresses this issue, and this will be an ongoing process involving engineers and industries and that the fcc to maximize the ability to free up spectrum. >> commissioner mcdowell, what% back of the spectrum usable for mobility is controlled by the federal government speak with icing estimates it's been about 60% but that may very. >> is a concern of the country seem to be able to clear spectrum for commercial use while we don't seem to be making the same progress? >> personal i think the u.s. has always been a world leader in spectrum, but we do have to have serious concerns about our competitors abroad, yes. >> i think, is this a question for leadership of us be more
9:22am
expeditious, perhaps folks overseas, or is this just a failure of why we are not as quick? do you think there's any reason we can't be? >> well, many thanks to congress for passing additional act of 2005, and that over the door -- opened the door to the last major auction we had which is almost five years ago in 2008. that helped us leapfrog other nations, but in the past, for five years we have had any major auctions. and we need to get on with that. >> that's what i hear when i talk of the country. they seem to be ahead of us on just one with our leadership, visit our leadership here or whether, what can we do? let me move on. commissioner pai, the july 2012 report suggests the newest pectoral -- architecture is that the norm for spectrum you should be sharing, not exclusivity. campaign to track records for sharing and exclusivity, which
9:23am
approach is better and are better and our wireless network's? >> without question is with the latter approach. clearing exclusivity spen. >> with that in mind, it's worth more all the time? >> i agree. that's why think it should be our priority when it comes to spectrum policy and the federal spectrum area. >> okay. mr. genachowski, several of the major wireless providers have joined efforts to work with the department of defense. the testing of several systems identified in the ntia 2012 report. it appears as cost, time-consuming to relocate and the dod seems to be not cooperating in negotiating wealth with them. i guess the question is, have
9:24am
you followed this at all and what is -- >> are you asking about the 1755? yes. this is an area, there's a tremendous opportunity to move forward with testing around different bases but my understanding is that the dod and the wireless industries are in what i hope will be the final stages of negotiating the details of the arrangement. i think it's good for all, for all the parties here that there's bipartisan desire to move this process quickly so that we can test the ideas and free up spectrum in that band come and do it in time to parent with the other spectrum that congress has required us to auction by i believe 2015. >> we were just told a month ago things seem to come to a grinding halt. were you for me with a? >> my understanding is it's not moving as quick as we would all like. it's not halted and there's negotiations back and forth. again at the consulting firm advocate of a strong desire in
9:25am
congress to do this. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you i just like to thank congressman stearns for his service, and we're going to miss you. >> thank you. thank you for your service. >> mr. chairman? >> we all concur with that statement. he has done a terrific job in this committee for many years in the subcommittee and his leadership is pretty committed -- appreciated. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> mr. rush has asked to ask another question or two. i yield. >> thank you so much for your consideration. i just want to say, you, it's been a pleasure serving with you on this committee. we have not agreed on anything yet, at it's still been a wonderful, wonderful pleasure serving with you spent it the gentleman witchel, i think we have a privacy bill we worked on together and get a secure for a while when you were chairman. >> there was some agreement, not too much though. [laughter] spent here, i will try to intercede.
9:26am
congressman stearns, which you agree with mr. rush should have another minute to ask another question? [laughter] >> mr. rush for another minute or so. >> one issue that doesn't get much attention, and one of the things commissioner clyburn -- [inaudible] is the exorbitant prison phone repaired as amount of packets taking this commission nine years, and some months, to rule on the rights. and that petition -- [inaudible] at reasonable levels. it shouldn't cost more to make a cell phone call the singapore than it is to receive a long distance call from a loved one in prison. does the commission intends to issue a notice at the next commission meeting to move
9:27am
forward with the right preceding? >> thank you for that question or that proposal i believe is on circulation and is being considered by the commission. >> a yes or a no? >> it's a yes as quickly as possible. >> thank you. >> i yield back spent i'm happy to accommodate his addition request but i think that concludes our opportunity today. we appreciate the work of the commission, and your testimony helps guide us in our understanding how things are being implemented. and the record will be open for 10 days for additional questions from our members who maybe didn't get a chance to offer them or think of a few others after them. so we appreciate again your work, look forward to continuing the dialogue as ago for to create jobs, innovation and america across all the spectrum. thank you. the committee now stands in
9:28am
adjourned. [inaudible conversations] >> [inaudible conversations]
9:29am
>> [inaudible conversations] >> [inaudible conversations] >> you are watching c-span2 with politics and public affairs, we case featuring live coverage of the u.s. senate. on weeknights watch key public policy vince. every weekend the latest nonfiction authors and books on booktv. you can see past programs and get our schedules at our website, and you can join in the conversation on social media sites.
9:30am
>> the u.s. senate is about to gavel in for the day. lawmakers are expected to continue working a bill even with deposit insurance coverage. we could also hear more farewell speeches on the floor today from retiring senators. and now live coverage of the senate here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer.
9:31am
the chaplain: let us pray. eternal spirit, give this day to our senators hope that survives after taking into account all the challenges and setbacks that might push thinking people toward pessimism. during this season of hope, remind them that faith may put them on the road to laudable accomplishments, but hope must keep them there. may our patriotism be rooted in hope rather than in pride, so
9:32am
that we may not think of ourselves more highly than we should. fill us with joy and peace so is that by the power of your holy spirit we may abound in hope, remembering that peace does not necessarily come through strength, but strength usually comes through peace. we pray in your sacred name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
9:33am
the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., december 13, 2012. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable tom udall, a senator from the state of new mexico, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: daniel k. inouye, president pro tempore. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: following leader remarks the senate will be in a period of morning business until 11:30 this morning. republicans will control the first 30 minutes, majority controlling the second 30 minutes. following morning business we'll resume consideration of s. 3637. the filing deadline for second-degree amendments to that legislation is 10:30 today. at noon there will be up to two roll call votes, first on the motion to waive the budget act if a point of order is raised. if the motion is successful there will be a second roll call vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the bill. i'm confident there will be
9:34am
additional votes this afternoon on judicial nominations. we'll keep everyone advised as to the time. mr. president, a poll this morning in the "wall street journal" which case it was -- which indicates it was done by the "wall street journal" and nbc news, indicates clearly where we should be headed with this fiscal cliff business. but until the republicans realize this, are willing to do what is right, we are going nowhere. more than three-quarters of americans, including 61% of republicans, believe it's fair to ask the top 2% to give a little more to avoid a fiscal cliff. and nearly two-thirds of those polled, including many who didn't vote for president obama in november, say that he has a mandate to reduce the deficit by raising taxes on the wealthy.
9:35am
mr. president, we on the democratic side are going to recognize that seven of our senators are retiring. that's really unfortunate. that's the decision they have made and it's, as i've indicated on more than one occasion, parting is sweet sorrow. we had a celebration last week and talked about those seven senators, and it was really a wonderful evening. so i've come here to the senate floor to talk about these individual senators. today i'm going to talk about senator herb kohl. herb kohl had to overcome adversity to become a united states senator.
9:36am
the history of herb kohl and his family overwhelmed me. he's a humble man. he doesn't talk much. i was stunned the other day, i guess it was last week, we had a guest rabbi, rabbi kohl from canada. it doesn't mean much hearing that name because it is a fairly common name. but after he finished, herb kohl, a man of humility, gave us a little bit of his background which we never heard before. senator kohl's cousin, rabbi kohl served as guest chaplain and he offered invocation to the senate. after the benediction, herb kohl, the senior senator from wisconsin, shared the family history. herb kohl's father, max, and
9:37am
rabbi kohl's father jack were brothers. during world war 1, when max and jack were teenagers, the brothers were captured by the russian military, jailed, and forced to march more than 150 miles with little food, no proper clothing and the constant threat of physical violence. on occasion, mr. president, they didn't have shoes to walk in siberia. that's basically where they were headed. the boys' parents didn't know where they were for more than two years. max and jake were then convicted by a czarist army as spies and sent on an epic five-month journey by rail across siberia. in 1916 the brothers were dumped off in a remote corner of that wintry waste. exile was frequently a death sentence. fortunately in this instance it was not. but the brothers survived, relying on the kindness of strangers, and two and a half years later max, herb's father,
9:38am
made his way back to his hometown. during the exile, young jack looked even younger -- i'm sorry. during their exile young jack looked after the even younger max and then max eventually would be herb kohl's father and emigrate to the united states. he sent for his older brother after he had a few dollars here in america. so the rabbi, dad, was brought to america by his brother, herb kohl's dad. the brothers' bond passed through generations to their sons. senator kohl and rabbi kohl are first cousins, and it was really dramatic to see their connections as they shared the senate floor. success enjoyed by max kohl, a polish immigrant, later by his son, a united states senator for 24 years, is a testament to the american dream. despite a rough start in life,
9:39am
max founded a chain of wisconsin grocery stores. herb eventually became president of kohl's chain with one little store. and he did this -- he was a successful businessman before he took over his dad's chain of stores. he became the c.e.o. of the stores, the chain started by his dad. initially after getting his bachelors degree at the university of wisconsin and his m.b.a. at harvard, herb found a successful real estate and stock investment firm. at the time he was also serving as an army reservist. herb took over the kohl hofs grocery and -- kohl's grocery and department store in 1970. as strong as his passion for business is, senator kohl is even a greater athletic fan. he had a passion for sports. in 1985 he bought the n.b.a.'s milwaukee bucks to keep the team
9:40am
from leaving wisconsin. he couldn't stand the thought of an outsider buying the team and moving the team from milwaukee, and that was the talk that everyone heard. everyone said herb kohl made a bad deal. why did he pay so much money for that basketball team? but his decision to buy the milwaukee bucks, which at the time some said was crazy, proves that doing the right thing and doing the profitable thing are often one and the same. today the bucks are worth ten times what herb paid for the team. they're an important pillar of that vibrant milwaukee community. herb was also one of the original investors in the milwaukee brewers owned by his childhood friend bud selig. they were roommates in a fraternity at the university of wisconsin but they knew each other when they were little boys in the same neighborhood. herb and bud still have lunch at jake's dellly whenever herb is
9:41am
back in milwaukee, which is almost every week. they do this on saturday. senator kohl is also passionate about education. he founded the herb kohl educational achievement award program which provides grants and scholarships to seniors and teachers in schools across wisconsin. he donated $25 million to the university of michigan to build a state-of-the-art facility, the kohl center. since elected in 1988, herb kohl has been a champion for public education fighting to give students the tools they need to succeed in the modern workforce. he's made fighting crime in wisconsin and across the nation a priority, advancing investments in antidrug and antigang programs. he's worked to reduce juvenile crime and ensure private funding of state and local public agencies. he's been a strong voice for the wisconsin dairy farmers, a valued member of the judiciary committee, banking kph-lt, -- committee and the special
9:42am
committee on aging and done so much for the aging population in america today. he's been a leader in many different legislative initiatives. herb cole is a fine man, a wonderful human being, i so admire and appreciate him. he's a distinguished senator, a devoted representative to the people of wisconsin and his presence will be missed in the senate. i wish him the very, very best in his retirement. would the chair announce the business of the day. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 11:30 a.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each, with the first hour equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees with the republicans controlling the first half. mr. reid: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
9:43am
9:44am
9:45am
quorum call:
9:46am
9:47am
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas is
9:48am
recognized. mr. boozman: i ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. boozman: thank you, mr. president. every time i travel the great state of arkansas, i meet farmers and ranchers that help feed america and the world. that's just how prevalent that agriculture is in my home state. it's our number-one industry. it accounts for $16 billion annually to the state's economy. that's the reason that i asked for a seat on the agricultural committee. i wanted to help arkansas' food producers, our farmers that are working to develop and implement policies to increase production and provide them with the tools and resources that they need to continue their important work. there are two immediate concerns that i hear as i travel the state. one, they want us to wrap up the work on a new farm bill. they want to know what the rules are going to be for the next
9:49am
five years as they go and visit with their bankers. and two, they don't want us to go over the fiscal cliff. arkansas farmers are concerned about what inaction on tax reform means to their livelihood. in particular, one of the areas that they fear is a rise in the already high and unnecessary tax burden they face when inheriting a loved one's farm or ranch. the death tax makes planning and passing on farms and businesses to the next generation even more difficult. oftentimes, the cost is too much to absorb and families end up spending their hard-earned money on attorneys' fees, selling their land or part of the business or assets or laying off workers just to pay uncle sam. if the president and the senate majority refuse to compromise on the tax portion of the fiscal cliff agreement, the death tax will rise dramatically. arkansas farmers will be forced to hand over to uncle sam up to
9:50am
55% of the value of family farmer states that are worth more than $1 million beginning in 2013. this would have a truly devastating impact on nearly a quarter of arkansas' family farms and ranches. with 97% of arkansas' farms being family owned, there is great concern among these agricultural producers, among our farmers, our timberland owners about the current inaction on the fiscal cliff, the fiscal crisis. a good example is allen nipper. he is a timber landowner who operates a tree farm in magnolia, arkansas. he wrote to me about what he rightfully calls multiple taxation. he says we know our lands provide clean water and wildlife habitats that benefit society in general without us expecting a handout or a payment for
9:51am
providing those services. he goes on to say but then at my death, the government wants to take up to 55% of the value after i have invested my efforts into providing those benefits. that's not right nor is it fair. i agree with al. part of the american dream is creating an inheritance that we can pass on to our future generations. our farmers and small businesses deserve to pass along their investments to their heirs without having to worry about the tax. that's why i introduced legislation to actually eliminate the death tax. while this idea won't be included in the final tax bill, these hard-working families can't afford congress to allow the death tax to return to 55%. it's simply unacceptable. at the very least, we need to maintain current policy for another year until we are able to implement and provide a more
9:52am
permanent solution. we owe it to these hard-working families to work together to solve this issue. i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
9:53am
9:54am
9:55am
9:56am
the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota is recognized. mr. thune: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes, we are. mr. thune: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president, i come to the floor today to talk about the debt crisis facing this country and why i believe that any deal to avert the fiscal cliff must address serious entitlement reform. we should not let the discussion around taxes, which is sort of dominating the airwaves here in washington, distract us from the fact that washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. every independent expert who examined america's long-term
9:57am
structural fiscal dilemma comes to the same conclusion. entitlement programs are the drivers of our national debt over the long term. those who argue that we can dig our way out of a $16 trillion debt -- and counting, by the way -- by raising taxes are ignoring reality. according to the congressional budget office's most recent forecast, under the current tax rates, revenues over the next ten years will average roughly 18% of g.d.p. in other words, federal revenues will return to their historical average without raising taxes on anyone. i will repeat that, mr. president, because i think it's an important point. our tax revenues will go back up to average 18% over the next decade, which is the historical average. that happens with existing tax policy in place without raising taxes on anyone. in fact, according to the c.b.o., congressional budget office, under the current tax
9:58am
rates, revenue as a percentage of g.d.p. will reach 18.6% by the year 2022, a decade from now. that's more than a half a percentage point higher than the historical average. clearly, our budget problems are not because we have too little revenue. our budget situation today relates directly to washington's addiction to overspending. in fiscal year 2007 before the recession, total federal revenue was roughly $2.5 trillion and total federal spending was approximately $2.7 trillion. for fiscal year 2012, five years later, which recently ended, total federal revenue was $2.45 trillion. basically back to the pre-recession levels, about the same level we had in revenue back in 2007. but total federal spending was above $3.5 trillion. in other words, tax revenue is back to where it was before the
9:59am
recession, but federal spending is now $800 billion higher than it was just five years ago in 2007. even "the washington post," which isn't -- is not something i necessarily agree with, their editorial page, agrees that the real issue is spending. an editorial entitled mr. obama's time to lead on entitlements, the post argued and i quote -- "since 60% of the federal budget goes to entitlement programs, such as medicare and medicaid and social security, there is no way, no way to achieve balance without slowing the rate of increase in those programs." end quote. and speaking of entitlement programs, the post editorial went on to say -- and again i quiet -- "at some point he, referring to the president, has to prepare the american people and his own supporters, most of all, for the hard decisions required to put the country on a sound financial footing. even "the washington post" agrees that we must take on the driver of federal spending,
10:00am
entitlement spending. and secondly, that the president has got to lead on that issue. and fortunately -- unfortunately, the president has continued campaigning around the country for higher taxes, but until he gets serious about leading on the issue of entitlement reforms, we simply will not be able to reach an agreement to tackle our fiscal problems in a meaningful way. ad proposed hike demonstrates why we cannot tax our way out of the debt crisis. the president is proposing $68 billion in revenue next year by raising the top tax rates in the process raising taxes on nearly a million small business owners. the white house claims that this will not have a major negative effect on america's business owners or their employees. but according to the national federation of independent businesses, small businesses created two-thirds of the new jobs in the last decade, and those small businesses are the most likely to be hit by the new tax increases, and those are the small businesses that employ, by the way, mr. president, 25% of
10:01am
the total workforce. according to a study by ernst & young, the president's proposed tax increases will result in 700,000 fewer jobs, nearly 2% decline in wages and economic growth. it is 1.3% lower than it otherwise would be. yet, despite the broad impact of these taxes on small businesses and our economy, this tax hike would only fund government operations next year for about a week. the $68 billion that the president said, got everything he wanted in the form of higher rates on income, higher rates on capital gains and dividends. all those things go back to the higher rates. it funds the government for about a week. the president seems to have an obsession with raising income tax rates claiming that is the only way to get significant new revenues. but this isn't true according to the administration's own budget.
10:02am
according to this administration's budget, the president's marginal income tax rate hike on high earners and small businesses will raise $442 billion own ten years. if you look at just the top two rates that you would raise, about $442 -- 400 billion over ten. the president would raise taxes for higher income tax earners raises $540 billion over ten years. the income tax rate increases are one-fourth of the new taxes the president has proposed. so it is simply not true as a factual matter, as a matter of arithmetic that you need to raise marginal income tax rates to raise significant revenue. yet, the president continues to insist that marginal income tax
10:03am
rate increases be part of any fiscal cliff agreement. you have to wonder is it because of the arithmetic or is it because of a liberal ideology that considers higher income tax rates to be the holy grail of tax policy. the last thing we ought to be doing if we want to boost economic growth is to raise tax rates, especially marginal income tax rates. marginal income tax rates matter because they have incentive effects. they affect a worker's decision to work an additional hour. the congressional budget office actually explains this phenomenon in this way -- and i quote -- "increasing revenues by raising marginal tax rates on labor would reduce people's incentive to work and, therefore, reduce the amount of labor supplied to the economy." most americans, mr. president, understand this logic intuitively. if you want less of something, raise the cost of producing it
10:04am
by taxing it more heavily. if we raise marginal income tax rates we will get less income as well as the labor that gives rise to that income. if we raise taxes on investments, we're likely to get less investment. it's time to recognize that we don't live in a static world. taxpayers will adjust to higher rates and in fact this has already started to happen. consider just in the last month we've seen a host of companies announcing special dividends or rushing to move up their dividend payments before the end of the year. 228 companies announced special dividend payouts just in the month of november. that compares to 54 companies in the month of october and 72 companies in november of last year. you've got three times as many companies announcing that they're going to do special dividend payouts in the month of november as you have last year. you have to believe, mr. president, that this is a direct result of the administration's plan to raise
10:05am
the top dividend tax rate from 15% today to 43.4% next year. the top tax rate on dividend next year will nearly triple unless we take action to prevent that. rather than raising taxes on america's small businesses, we should reform our tax code in a way that encourages economic growth and, therefore, generates new revenue. rather than the president's approach of simply redistributing revenue, we should be focused on growing the economy over the long run. thus, increasing opportunities for wealth creation for all americans. we know this approach can work because we've done it before. the tax reform act of 1986 lowered rates, broughtened the tax base and resulted in one of the longest economic booms in american history. harvard economist dale jorgenson estimated the gains available from fundamental tax reform
10:06am
amount to as much as $7 trillion in current dollar terms. the joint tax committee has projected that revenue neutral tax reform could lead to an increase in g.d.p. by as much as 3.5% in the long run. martin feld stein, former chairman of the white house council of economic advisors, calculated that lowering individual tax rates by only 10% coupled with base-broadening measures to ensure revenue neutrality would raise over $500 billion in new revenue related to growth over the next ten years. that's lowering rates by 10%, individual tax rates. increasing the rate of economic growth is the single-most important thing that we can do to ensure greater prosperity for americans today, but also for the coming generations. a recent report by third way, a center left think tank, highlighted the importance of raising economic growth back to
10:07am
the post world war ii average of 3.3%. according to this report, increasing economic growth back to 3.3% starting in the year 2018 would result in nearly two million additional jobs by the year 2022 and roughly he 5.3 million new jobs by the year 2030. it would result in more than $600 billion in new revenue by 2022 and more than $5 trillion in additional federal revenue by the year 2013. christina romer, former chair of the economic advisors under president obama, equated a 1 percentage point change in g.d.p. with a million jobs a year. given these estimates there should be a bipartisan consensus that what we need is higher economic growth, not higher taxes. i would propose that the fiscal cliff is both a challenge and
10:08am
it's an opportunity. it's a challenge to get the federal government's runaway spending under control. but it's also an opportunity for us to make real entitlement reforms and to put in place a structure for comprehensive tax reform next year that will have enormous benefits for our economy. i hope, mr. president, that our president, the president of the united states will soon join the discussion that many of us have been having about comprehensive tax and entitlement reforms. presidential leadership on both of these critical issues is long, long overdue, and it is essential, mr. president. you cannot do big things in this country. you can't do entitlement reform, you can't do tax reform absent presidential leadership. president obama has a unique opportunity in his second term to do some things that are desperately needed for this country and to put our country on a path toward fiscal solvency, a trajectory that will ensure a brighter, better, more pros puss future for future
10:09am
generations of americans. but in order for that to happen we have to have the right policies in place, and those are policies that encourage jobs and economic growth. he said in his post election press conference that his number-one priority was going to be jobs and the economy. i couldn't agree more with that statement. but the way that you achieve that, mr. president, is by getting fiscal discipline in place, by budgetary restraint and by having policies in place that promote robust economic growth. you look at what solves these problems, it's the best thing that we can do is to grow our economy. and then a lot of these debt and deficit issues become much smaller by comparison. it really does come down to growth but you cannot grow the economy by raising taxes on the small businesses, the job creators, the people out there who are creating the jobs and impact the literally millions of middle-class families who are
10:10am
employed by those small businesses. millions and millions of americans work for small businesses in this country who if the president has his way would see their taxes go up. that is not something we want to see happen in a weak economy. it was only two years ago, in 2010, when the president said we ought to extend all the tax rates because we shouldn't be raising taxes in the middle of a weak economy. at that time economic growth on an analyzed basis was 2.4%. economic growth now is 2%. we have a weaker economy today than we did in 2010 when the president said raising taxes in the middle of a weak economy would be a mistake and bad idea. i agreed with him then, mr. president. i hope he will come to the conclusion now that this is a bad solution. i know he is insistent on higher tax rates, but as i pointed out earlier, you raise the top 2 marginal interest rates alone, you generate about $40 billion in revenue next year. if you today that capital gain and dividend tax rate increases
10:11am
you get about $68 billion in additional tax revenue next year, which funds the government for just under a week. it simply does not solve the problem to raise taxes if you're talking about fixing the deficit. and on the other hand, what it does do, mr. president, is it makes it more expensive and more difficult for american businesses to create jobs to get americans back to work, to get our economy growing again and to make this country prosperous for future generations. mr. president, i yield the floor.
10:12am
10:13am
mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington is recognized. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: the senate is currently in session. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i come to the floor today to request that we have unanimous consent for s. 3313, which is the women veterans and other health care improvement act of 2012, which was unanimously supported by the members of the veterans' affairs committee to be moved out of this body today. mr. president, this legislation not only builds upon previous laws that we passed to improve v.a. services for women veterans
10:14am
and veterans with families, but it also brings a new focus to the need for the v.a. to do more to help women veterans and the spouses of male veterans access assistance for one of the most impactful and serious wounds of these wars. reproductive and urinary tract trauma. as many of you know, the nature of the current conflicts and the use of improvised explosive devices leaves service members far more susceptible to those kinds of injuries. in fact, army data shows that between 2003 and 2011, nearly 2,000 of our service members have suffered those kinds of battle injuries. like so many of our veterans, these men and women come home and look to returning to their lives, to find employment and to start a family. yet what they find when they go
10:15am
to the v.a. is that the fertility services that are available don't meet their complex needs from these injuries. in fact, veterans suffering from those kinds of injuries find that the v.a. now is specifically barred from providing more advanced assisted reproduction techniques such as in vitro fertilization or i.v.f. they are told when they come home that despite the fact that they have made such an extreme sacrifice for our nation, we can't provide them with the medical services they need to start a family. veterans like staff sergeant matt kyle and his wife tracy who is here with us today. i'm so proud of her and her courage in making sure that this is available for families like hers. staff sergeant kyle was shot in the neck while he was on patrol in ramadi, iraq, on february 24
10:16am
of 2007, six weeks after he married the love of his life, tracy. the bullet went through the right side of his neck, hit a major artery, went through his spinal cord and exited through his left shoulder blade. staff sergeant kyle instantly became a quadriplegic. doctors informed tracy her husband would be on a ventilator for the rest of his life and would never move his arms or his legs. staff sergeant kyle eventually defied the odds and found himself off that ventilator and beginning a long journey of physical rehabilitation. now, around that same time, tracy and her husband started exploring the possibilities of starting a family together, something that is a dream of so many young people in america today. having children was all they could talk about once they adjusted to their new normal. with staff sergeant kyle's injuries preventing him from having children naturally, tracy
10:17am
turned to the v.a. for assistance and began to explore her options for fertility treatments. feeling defeated after being told the v.a. had no such programs in place for her in her situation, tracy and staff sergeant kyle decided to pursue i.v.f. through the private sector. well, they were anxious to begin this chapter of their lives, they were confronted with the reality that tricare did not cover any of the costs related to tracy's treatments because she did not have any fertility issues beyond her husband's injury. left with no further options, the kyles decided this was important enough to them that they were willing to pay out of pocket to the tune of almost $32,000 per round of treatment. now, thankfully, on november 9, 2010, just after their first round of i.v.f., staff sergeant kyle and tracy welcomed their
10:18am
twins matthew and faith into the world, two beautiful young children. and tracy told me -- and this was her words -- the day we had our children, something changed in both of us. this is exactly what we had always wanted. our dreams had arrived. the v.a., congress and the american people have said countless times that they want to do everything they can to support my husband or make him feel whole again, and this is your chance. having a family is exactly what we needed to feel whole again. please help us make these changes so that other families can share in this experience. that's what tracy said to me. now, i have heard from these severely injured veterans, and while the details of their stories vary, the common thread that runs through all of them is that these veterans were unable to obtain the type of assistance they needed. some have spent tens of thousands of dollars in private
10:19am
sector just like tracy and her husband did to get the advanced reproductivity treatments they needed to start a family. others have watched, sadly, their marriages dissolve because of the stress of infertility in combination, of course, with the stresses of readjusting to life after a severe injury which drove their relationships to a breaking point. any service member who sustains this type of serious injury deserves so much more. the bill i am here today trying to get passed will give the v.a. broad authority to offer advanced fertility treatments to the most severely wounded veterans, their spouses or surrogates, and it also gives the v.a. the authority to determine how best to offer those benefits. it reverses this troubling barrier to care and will bring the v.a. in line with the military which provides these services to the same group of service members. mr. president, this is commonsense legislation.
10:20am
it should pass without delay. in fact, "the new york times" recently ran an editorial on this bill and it said -- "in more than a decade of combat overseas, the military and the v.a. have continually had to adjust to the challenges of new traumas with new treatments, as with the epidemic of brain injuries and post-traumatic stress. adapting the v.a. health system to better meet reproductive health needs should be part of that response. it is one compassionate way to fulfill the country's duty to our wounded veterans." end quote. they also noted that even in this congress, they should be capable of a bipartisan agreement to pass it, and i couldn't agree more, and i can't think of any reason why any republican or democrat won't join us today in getting this bill passed. this is about giving veterans who have sacrificed absolutely everything, every option we have to help them fulfill a dream of
10:21am
simply starting a family. it says we're not turning our back on the catastrophic reproductive wounds that have become a signature of these wars. it says to all these brave men and women that didn't ask questions when they were put in harm's way that we won't let politics get in the way of our commitment to them. mr. president, the v.a. has an obligation to care for the combat wounded, and that should include access to the care they need, and our women veterans deserve this, our male veterans deserve this and our military and veteran families deserve this. so, mr. president, my understanding is that the objections have been removed and that we expect this bill to pass tonight when we clear the bills as we end this session, and i want to thank all of our colleagues who have stepped up to make the reality of a family real, to these family who have served us so well in combat, have come home with extremely serious wounds, who because this
10:22am
legislation hopefully will pass this body and hopefully we can get the house to pass it, will then have their dream of having a family become a reality. so, mr. president, i am very proud to have worked on this in a bipartisan way, moved it out of our veterans committee, and my understanding is we will be able to clear this bill tonight and move it along its way to the president's signature and give hope to many men and women who served our country to have a family once again. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
10:23am
10:24am
10:25am
10:26am
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado is recognized. mr. udall: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. udall: mr. president, i come to the senate floor once again to urge my colleagues to act on extending the production tax credit for wind, otherwise known as the p.t.c. if we let the production tax credit, the p.t.c., expire in the next 18 days -- we literally
10:27am
have 18 days left before it does expire -- that expiration has the potential to cost our economy thousands of good-paying middle-class jobs. we just can't let that happen. tens of thousands of americans who work in the wind industry are depending on us to extend this important credit, and in doing so save jobs and encourage investment in more states like my state of colorado and the presiding officer's state of new mexico. if we fail to extend the p.t.c., we risk jeopardizing not only our economic growth but also our capacity, our potential, our ability to continue leading the world in the development and use of clean energy technology. i have come to the floor over 25 times to talk on this subject, and each time i do, i highlight a different state in what the
10:28am
p.t.c. has done to encourage economic growth. and today, i'm really pleased to be able to talk about the great state of new mexico, the presiding officer's state, whose wind resources rank tenth in the united states. new mexico is an impressive example of how wind can be harnessed to create good-paying jobs, support local communities and produce american-grown power. i want to speak specifically about various areas in new mexico. new mexico has eight counties with wind projects, as you can see from the map here. the largest one is the new mexico wind energy center. it straddles quay county and tabaka county which are located in the eastern side of the state over here. this is an impressive project. the presiding officer knows this. it's his home state. it opened in 2003. it has 136 turbines. it produces 200 megawatts of
10:29am
power. it's located 170 miles south of albuquerque, and it produces enough electricity to power 95,000 new mexico homes, which is almost half of all the homes powered by wind in the state. so this is an impressive project. i know the presiding officer has probably visited it, knows it firsthand. in terms of jobs, wind farms employ 500 new mexicans around the state. these are really good-paying jobs. we have seen all across the country that investment in wind power is really an investment in the middle class, and it's support for what makes our country great. that is, we build our economy from the middle out. these jobs are found across the ledger, if you will, in operations, maintenance, construction and manufacturing as well as many support sectors. of course we know when you have a fundamental core business like this, it creates a ripple effect and you have a lot of other
10:30am
small businesses that take root. new mexico -- and i don't have to tell the presiding officer, but i'm going to tell him anyway -- has two outstanding senators who are outstanding leaders, senators bingaman and tom udall, and those two senators have championed the renewable energy sector and they understand the significance of the production tax credit. and i particularly want to mention senator bingaman. he's the chairman of the energy and natural resources committee. he's continued to press the congress on the need to extend the p.t.c. and i know we're going to see a package come forward that will have other clean energy tax credits in it. and i'm a member of the energy tax committee as well. i have that great honor. i want to tell all of us in the country that we're going to lose a renewable energy champion when senator bingaman retires in a few weeks. let me turn back to the
10:31am
potential in new mexico for wind energy development. as i understand it, the states, to pass the means, if we fully develop wind energy in new mexico, we could develop 75 times new mexico's current electricity needs. that's why we need a grid upgrade. when new mexico harvests that wind we're going to send that wind to places like tucson and phoenix, probably into texas and maybe all the way to the west coast. let me, mr. president, turn back to the need to extend this tax credit. if we don't extend it -- again, we have just over two weeks to extend it -- we risk not only losing jobs, but the momentum that we've developed towards achieving true energy security and economic growth. and already because of the inaction in the congress over this last year, we've seen americans laid off in the wind energy industry.
10:32am
clean energy plays abcrucial jobs in creating new jobs in electricity production. we can't risk losing more good-paying american jobs. some studies suggest if we let the p.t.c. expire, we're going to lose half the wind energy industry. we would fall from 75,000 jobs to something on the order of 37,000 jobs. this is not acceptable. we can't let the production tax credit expire. we need to pass it as soon as possible. it's just this simple. the p.t.c. equals jobs. we need to pass it as soon as possible. think about countries like china and germany. they're continuing to expand their wind industries in the renewable energy sectors. if we don't support our wind energy industry here and the wind manufacturing facilities we're effectively offshoring and exporting those jobs. our global competitors aren't hesitating. they're encouraging wind power
10:33am
development. and they know the longer we fail to act, literally the more wind they can steal from our sails. so enough is enough. this is an american industry. it needs to continue to be an american industry. but we risk everything, literally everything if we let the p.t.c. lapse in 18 days. so let's focus on this made in america potential. through it we can obtain energy independence. we can ensure energy security and we keep jobs in new mexico and colorado, minnesota, new york, every state in our great country. so let's not wait any longer. let's continue to build this clean energy economy right here in the united states. mr. president, let's do it today. the p.t.c. equals jobs. let's pass it as soon as possible. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
10:34am
ms. klobuchar: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota is recognized. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i rise today to urge a fiscal compromise that will allow us to avoid the negative and very real consequences of the approaching fiscal cliff. every day that passes without a deal only increases uncertainty in the markets and puts the brakes on potential economic activity. failure to bring the national debt under control threatens our country's future. in the weeks following the election, the message was clear from the people of this country. they want the people in this capitol, they want the people in washington to come together to find reasonable balanced solutions to our nation's problems. we need to show the country that
10:35am
we are serious about working together to address our fiscal challenges, reducing the cost of borrowing and strengthening our financial outlook. the sooner we can agree on a long-term balanced deficit-reduction package, the better for our economy and the better for our country. it is time to put political differences aside to work on an agenda that strengthens our economy, promotes fiscal responsibility and increases global competitiveness. i've always said that we need to make things in america, that we need to invent things again, that we need to export to the world. we are starting to do that again. i see it all over our state where fortunately our unemployment rate is better than a lot of other states. it's at about 5.8%. but we can do even better. one of the key things to doing better is not only focusing on exports, on education; it is also bringing down this debt in a balanced way, in a way that won't suddenly jar our economy and put us over the age, but in
10:36am
a -- put us over the edge but in a way in the long term means businesses. the people of the world can look at it, businesses can look at it and say they're serious about this, they're doing it in a measured, balanced way but they're going to get this done. if we refuse to have an honest conversation about this, insist on using the debate only for a vehicle for political rhetoric, we will not just be doing ourselves a disservice, we will be cheating our children and grandchildren out of knowing the america that we grew up in. that america in minnesota where one small town businessperson can start a business and grow and grow and grow and employ their kids and their grandkids. where a farmer can build a farm that employs people throughout the town, where someone in new mexico can get an idea for wind energy or solar energy and start a new business. that's what this america is about. in 2011 we came together and put in place discretionary spending caps that will reduce our debt by over $1 trillion in the
10:37am
coming decade. we also agreed to find another trillion in savings before december 31 of this year. while significant spending cuts are a necessary part of a balanced solution, any plan to responsibly lower the deficit can't come from cuts alone. revenue must also be part of a solution. i have appreciated that several of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have acknowledged this, that revenue must be part of the solution. now we have to put words into action. i think the most common refrain i hear from the business community at home when we discuss what it will take to spur investment and create jobs, what they talk about is certainty. they need certainty. they need certainty if they're a farmer and we need to include the farm bill in this package so they know what they need to get for their crop insurance. they need certainty if they're a businessperson and deciding whether or not they should invest in new equipment, and they need to know exactly what the consequences, tax consequences, other consequences of that investment will be. so on the revenue side, in
10:38am
addition to the spending cuts i just discussed, what does that mean on the revenue side? first it means extending tax cuts for middle-class americans. in minnesota, two million families and small businesses will see their federal income taxes increase by an average of $1,600 unless the middle-class tax cuts are extended. this means a lot for a family trying to decide whether they can afford a student loan to send their kid to college this fall or a business owner looking to invest in their company. it means a lot. second, this means returning to the clinton tax levels for people making over $250,000 a year. under the clinton rates -- and let's go back to that time, mr. president. under those rates, the economy created nearly 23 million jobs and small businesses generated jobs at twice the rate during the clinton years than they did under the years of the bush tax rates. but we do not have to look as far back as the 1990's to see the impact of extending tax cuts
10:39am
for 98% of all americans versus extending them for those making over $250,000. at a recent joint economic committee hearing i pointed out that extending tax cuts to households making under $250,000 would increase real g.d.p. by 1.3% and increase employment by 1.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2013. by comparison, expanding the tax cut extension to include taxpayers making over $250,000 per year would only add an additional .1% to g.d.p. that's very little bang for the buck than what you get by extending them for the middle class. so that reason is one of the main things why we're so focused on looking at this in terms of extending tax cuts for people making under $250 thousand and then going to the clinton levels for people making over $250,000. what's the other reason? the other reason is pretty obvious. that's what i started with. we have to bring our debt down.
10:40am
and when you look at how much this would save just to go back to the clinton levels for people making over $250,000, it would save nearly $700 billion over the next ten years. and when interest payments are included, that number could easily exceed $1 trillion. how many times have we heard economists say, mr. president, that we should look at the neighborhood of $4 trillion in reduction in debt over ten years to give the country, to give the world confidence in our country? so that's $1 trillion right there, simply by going back to the clinton tax levels for people making over $250,000. you have another $2 trillion, $1 trillion of which we've already agreed to, you can do in spending cuts. i believe the other $1 trillion you can get from closing loopholes and making some changes that will not be on the backs of the middle class and seniors and veterans in this country. things like the oil subsidies. things like looking at the
10:41am
mortgage home deduction. if you buy a $1 million home, that's great. you get that mortgage deduction up to $500,000 in value. those are the last part we are not likely to get to in the next two weeks which is closing loopholes and subsidies. now we need to focus on the bush tax cuts and what we can do to extend them for the middle class and get a $1 trillion in debt reduction, a down payment on debt reduction going into next year as well as the spending cuts we need to make. the down payment on deficit reduction would send a strong signal that washington is serious about getting our nation's fiscal house in order. finally, in addition to the spending cuts and the revenue measures that i just spelled out, in order to ensure that our country remains competitive, we must move toward tax reform. one of the best things we can do to ensure business growth and more jobs is to create incentives to invest here in the united states and spur
10:42am
innovation. and that is by simplifying the tax code by closing some of these loopholes i just discussed and by paying for, reducing some of the business rates, by paying for reducing those business rates, by closing those loopholes and ending some of the tax subsidies. we know that that's not going to be an easy task, but i believe we are up to it because america is up to it. they're up to it every single day when they go to work, when they make it on just sometimes very difficult situations, one, two, three jobs; difficult profit margins. they make that decision every single day. the at least we can do in this chamber in washington, d.c. and at the house of representatives is to get this done. it's time we get serious about advancing a deal that is both fair and achievable. if we are committed to our country and not to rigid ideologies, we will get this done. none of us want to see our economy crippled. we have finally seen it staeulzed and in -- stabilized and in states like mine we're beginning to see it grow again.
10:43am
there are positive signs across our country. but the way we get this and -- in the direction we want to go, which is moving forward in a strong way, not just a stable way, moving forward is to make sure we bring down our debt in a balanced way. we don't want to see things go backwards. democrats don't want it. republicans don't want it. it's time for us to work together to show the american people that washington isn't broken. that instead we're willing to put aside our politics to do what's right for america. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
10:44am
10:45am
quorum call: mr. udall: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico is recognized. mr. udall: i would ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. udall: thank you, mr. president. i'm pleased today to join my colleague, the senator from colorado, -- my cousin, but he is really more like a brother -- to highlight the importance of renewable energy, clean energy. he just spoke here a little bit earlier about renewable energy and clean energy and wind energy, and i want to express my support for the extension of the wind production tax credit. mark udall, he knows well, and i do, how important this is, and i want to commend him for his efforts here on the floor, his
10:46am
persistent efforts to try to get this done. i came to the chamber to discuss wind incentives earlier this year. i urged then and i urge now an immediate extension. we need this before the end of the year. we need to provide certainty for wind projects and employees. but here we are again today. we haven't got it done yet but we're going to have to keep working. as the presiding officer and the senator from colorado knows, we work on the floor, we work off the floor, we work behind the scenes to try to get this done, and we need to get this extension, this vital tax credit for wind is set to expire in 18 short days. that would be a huge mistake to let it expire. many projects would be delayed, thousands of jobs would be lost. clean energy jobs have been a bright spot in our economy. we have seen wind energy capacity in america equivalent
10:47am
to 75 large power plants, and it's still growing. we added the equivalent of ten large power plants' worth of wind power in 2011, and we see this on this -- this chart here. we are going to add even more this year. this chart shows some interesting facts about wind power in new mexico. we already have enough wind power installed in new mexico to power 200,000 homes, 200,000 homes. we have 20 times more capacity in the planning stages, and then look at this projection. new mexico has wind potential power 75 times more than the state's electricity needs. with the right transmission lines -- and i think this is something we also want to work on together is getting a good grid in place, a smart grid and getting the areas of the country
10:48am
hooked up that have wind energy to be able to move it around, and with the right transmission lines, new mexico is set to become a major wind power exporter. and wind power -- and wind power already supports 500 jobs in new mexico. wind farms mean payments for farmers and ranchers in new mexico during times of drought. they mean a local tax base support for rural schools, and they mean a brighter future for our economy. we're seeing real growth, real potential, but progress depends in part on us continuing the support for this tax credit. the tax credit has been expended -- extended seven times by presidents and congresses of both parties. it was enacted under a democratic congress and signed into law by president h.w. bush. it was extended in 1999 by a
10:49am
republican congress and signed by president clinton, and in 2005, it was extended under president george w. bush as a part of the bipartisan energy legislation drafted by senator bingaman and senator domenici of new mexico. and i do want to say that we're really going to miss senator jeff bingaman, our chairman on that energy committee. he has done a remarkable job at putting clean energy front and center of our agenda. and then this tax credit was most recently extended in 2009 as part of president obama's recovery act. so renewable energy has enjoyed long-standing bipartisan support, and the wind tax credit has been a great success. the cost of wind power has fallen dramatically as the presiding officer knows, it has fallen dramatically over the years. for example, general -- g.e.'s
10:50am
wind power costs have dropped from 15 cents per kill a watt-hour to near five cents in the last ten years. wind is becoming cost competitive with fossil fuels. on some days, it's the cheapest electricity available. let me just repeat that because that's important, because we hear arguments out there that, oh, this is expensive, but on some days, it is the cheapest electricity available. the department of energy estimates we could receive 20% of our electric power from wind alone by 2030, but we need to stay the course and support a policy with proven benefits. we will not need this incentive forever, but we should not eliminate it overnight. wind resources are widely available in the west, the midwest and even offshore, and support of the wind tax credit
10:51am
is -- the support of the wind tax credit is diverse. wind power benefits a wide variety of americans. farmers and ranchers who lease their land, tax revenues for rural school districts, iron workers, steelworkers and engineers and everyone who wants to breathe clean air. other countries, china, india, japan and germany, they see these benefits, too. they also want the job growth. they also want the energy security, and they are acting aggressively to take leadership of the clean energy economy. our workers and entrepreneurs can compete with anyone on a level playing field, but congress is tying one hand behind their back by leaving important incentives like this in jeopardy. let's continue the bipartisan support for the wind tax credit. let's work together and get the job done for our economy, for
10:52am
our energy independence. let's continue to invest in clean energy. and with that, i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
10:53am
10:54am
10:55am
10:56am
10:57am
10:58am
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin. the senator from wisconsin is reminded that the senate is in a quorum call. mr. kohl: i request the quorum call be rescinded. the presiding officer: without
10:59am
objection. mr. kohl: thank you, mr. president. i rise today for one final time to address the senate. my remarks will be brief and actually i just want to say one thing -- thank you. i wish i could say it with the eloquence of one of my first friends in the senate, senator dale bumpers, who told his stories and always made his case, pacing these aisles like a lion tethered to a specially made extra-long microphone cord. or with the breadth of vision of the late senator robert c. byrd who sprinkled his classic mother's day or fourth of july speeches with memorized poetry and his vast command of history. or with the fire of my dear friend, the late senator ted kennedy, who would bell owe to the -- bellow to the rafters his passion for the america that could be and then call on the senate to make it so. what a privilege it has been to
11:00am
serve with such men, and so many other men and women who have made up this body over the last 24 years. you have been my friends, advisors, sometimes adversaries and always worthy and my inspiration, and i thank you. my colleagues in this body are to a man or a woman thoughtful, hard-working patriots. we do not always agree, understandably, but every senator i have met is pursuing a course that he or she believes is best for the nation, and advocating policies that he or she believes are best for their state. and when i have come to any of you with my ideas about what's best for the nation or for my state, you have listened respectfully, counseled wisely and helped whenever you could. so i thank you. the senate is often referred to as a family, and that is certainly how i feel about my
11:01am
staff. many of whom are gathering today to say our goodbyes. perhaps what i will miss the most on leaving the senate is coming to work every day here in washington and in wisconsin with such a bright, creative, and dedicated group of people, constantly focused on what's best for our nation and my state. challenging and pushing me to be the best senator i could be. you cannot be a cynic about the future of this country when you work in an office like mine and have the privilege to interact with generations of intelligent, civic-minded and loyal staffers. and so i thank them all. for making a hard job not just easy but enjoyable, and for serving the people of wisconsin tirelessly and exceedingly well. my final thanks go to the
11:02am
extraordinary people of wisconsin. thank you for letting me pay back in part the great debt my family owes to the state that took in my immigrant mother and father, and allowed our family, including my brothers, sidney and allen, and our sister delauros, to grow and thrive. thank you for taking a chance on me in that first election 24 years ago and renewing my contract three more times. thank you for trusting me with your problems and concerns, your hopes and dreams. please know that we have listened to you carefully and fought for you always. every wisconsinite who wanted it, democrat or republican, rich or poor, farmer or city dweller, got full consideration in my office. and whether it was arranging a capitol tour, finding a lost social security check, pushing for legislation to reform the
11:03am
federal dairy program, or reviving the shipbuilding industry in wisconsin, every wisconsinite had an ally and an advocate in us. it has been the greatest honor of my life to serve these 24 years in this hallowed institution alongside my fellow senators and my staff, and as the voice for the people of wisconsin. for that, i thank you all one last time. and i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
11:04am
11:05am
11:06am
mr. harkin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa is recognized. mr. harkin: i ask the proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with.
11:07am
the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. harkin: at the close of the 11th coming our good friend and colleague herb kohl is requiring after four terms of dedicated service to the people of wisconsin and the united states. as a senator, herb kohl has shown the same dedication and work ethic that previously allowed him to build his family-owned business into a nationally known brand name. during his 24 years in this body he has been a classic workhorse senator as opposed to a show horse senator. few senators have been more willing to shun the limelight and share the credit in order to get important things done for the people of this country. senator kohl is also a proud and principled progressive. his work in the senate brings to mind the great words of the late hubert humphrey when he said -- and i quote -- "the moral test of government is how its government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children, those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly, and those who are in the shadows
11:08am
of life, the he elderly, the sick, and the handicapped." senator kohl has been a leading advocate on children's issues. for instance, he offered legislation to expand the school breakfast program and has been a supporter of child nutrition programs. he authored legislation requiring that handguns be sold with separate child safety locks. of course, as chair of the special committee on aging he has led the charge on issues affecting older americans, something especially important to my state of iowa. and particularly i salute senator kohl for authoring the physician payment sunshine act, which was included in the affordable care act. the sunshine act which was the focus of a series of hearings chaired by senator kohl will require transparency and disclosure on payments made to doctors and surgeons by drug and medical device companies. senator kohl has been our leader in improving the safety and
11:09am
quality of nursing homes, ensuring criminal background checks for employees in nursing homes, and working with c.m.s. to institute new and meaningful quality ratings for nursing homes. senator kohl and i worked together in my capacity as chair of the health, education, labor and pengsz committee on labor reform of the pension guarantee corporation and its board. senator kohl deserves enormous credit for his committee's in-depth hearings and reports identifying financial scams and abuses targeting seniors and the elderly. mr. president, herb kohl is a good friend, and he's been an outstanding senator. he has accomplished many things during his four terms in the senate, but i can think of no greater action accolade than toy simply herb kohl is a good, decent, honorable person with a passion for social and economic
11:10am
justice, and the determination to make life better for ordinary americans. i join with the entire senate family in wishing herb the very best in the years ahead. mr. president, now i want to rise to express my deep sadness about the recent events in michigan. denied the chance to participate in their own government, michigan workers have been the victims of back room political trickery and they have lost very much in a short period of time. it's also a sad day, however, for our entire country. because michigan is only the latest battleground in a much larger war on workers' rights. and if we lose this, the casualty will be the american middle class. i have always said and believed that strong unions are the foundation of a strong middle class. when union membership was at its
11:11am
peak in this country, we all grew together. the middle class grew and prospered. everyone from the richest c.e.o. to the minimum wage worker benefited from our nation's prosperity when labor union organization was at its peak. michigan's economy has always been a shining examples of that shared prosperity. when an auto worker who put in a hard day's work could earn enough not only to buy one of the cars he made but to buy a house, send his kids to college, take a nice vacation, have a good retirement, live the american dream. as unions have declined in this country, the middle class is also declined. those at the top earn more and more, while ordinary working people are seeing the american dream slip out of touch. and it's not just union workers who are losing ground. because unions don't just benefit their members.
11:12am
they benefit each and every american worker, regardless of whether you've ever held a union card. it is unions that fought for all of the things that we sort of take for granted. it's unions that fought for the 40-hour workweek, a fair minimum wage, laws against discrimination, laws that keep workers safe on the job. it is unions fighting for medicare, social security, job training, other programs that help work worms -- working famis succeed. i think it's important to go back to the founding father, if you will, of the american labor movement, samuel gompers. he was asked once what does labor want? and here's what he said. what does labor want? we want more schoolhouses and less jails. more books and less arsenals.
11:13am
more learning and less vice. more leisure and less greed. more justice and less revenge. in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures. that was samuel gompers. and he went on to say where trade unions are most firmly organized, there are the rights of the people most respected. and historically we know that's true. and perhaps most importantly right now america's labor unions are the last revaing -- remaining voice strong enough to speak out for those who are not rich and powerful. that's why they're under attack. unions are under attack because they're one of the few remaining groups strong enough to stand up to the powerful, the very wealthy interests that want to run our country and ship our jobs overseas. last thursday, governor snyder of michigan held a press conference with the republican leaders in the michigan house
11:14am
and senate and announced their plans to force through a change in michigan laws for the so-called right to work law. by the end of that same day, republicans had introduced and passed right to work bills. there was no real debate. there were no hearings. and to make matters worse, they manipulated the process to prevent the voters in michigan from ever reviewing their actions. why do i say that? because michigan law allows voter referendums on most laws. but has an exception for appropriations bills. so the republicans in the legislature attached their antilabor provisions to an appropriations bill to deny voters in michigan the chance to even be heard on it. but here's the key thing about the american people: when we're fighting for our families and our children's future, we'll not be bullied, nor will we be
11:15am
silence pedestrian. this week's events in michigan illustrate this powerfully. ordinary people with bills to pay and worries on their mind are taking time to stand together, shoulder to shoulder and say enough is enough. mr. president, this is not, again, just about organized labor. there are huge stakes for the middle class in the ongoing republican assault on the right of american workers to organize and bargain collective. -- collectively. there is a very direct connection between this war on unions and the harsh reality that american workers' incomes have stagnated and even declined in recent decades. even as corporate profits have skyrocketed. in an important column earlier this week, nobel prize-winning columnist paul krugman points out that even as the economy has struggled, corporate profits are at an all-time high. moreover, as professor krugman points out -- quote -- "profits
11:16am
have surged as a share of national income while wages and labor compensation are down. the pie isn't grow the way it should but capital is doing fine by grabbing an ever-larger slice at labor's expense." as this chart shows, corporate profits have been rising rapidly for a decade in dollar terms, but wages have been stagnant, barely keeping up with inflation over time. in dollar terms, total wages have been increasing slightly but that's just because of inflation. meanwhile, a growing number of workers are dividing up their share of the pie, but as corporate profits have been skyrocketing, almost tripling for over a decade, and so, thereof, the worker share gets smaller and smaller. and this is what this second chart shows. it's kind of a little confusing chart but i'll explain it. if you look at longer terms and periods in terms of the gross domestic product, what we see is
11:17am
that from the 1950's through 2000, wages and corporate profits moved back and forth relative to each other. but since the 1980's, we see a picture of corporate profits increasing and really exploding over the last decade. at the same time, wages and salaries have been on a steady downward slope has the economy has grown. and as i said, this pattern has accelerated dramatically over the past decade. so let's take a look and try to make some sense out of this chart. so here is the wages as a percent of the gross domestic product. well, if we look back here in the 1950's and 1960's and 1970's, up to about 1980, we'll see that both -- that labor's share was right around 50%, give or take a little bit. right around 50%. and corporate profits basically kept in line with it. beginning in 1980, then, wages, the red line, started going down
11:18am
and corporate profits started their huge climb. and but for the recession, where they took a dip, you can see the huge increase now in corporate profits as a percent of g.d.p., which is thousand well over 60% -- which is now well over 60% and wages have fallen down to below 44% of the -- of that. so as a -- as a percent, you can see that the -- that corporate profits have skyrocketed but wages -- and this is what's happening, more and more of the pie is going to corporate profits; less and less is going to wages. that's the squeeze that's on, and what's happened, if you look at unions and trade unions during this same period of time, what you see is beginning right in here, right about 19 -- late 1970's, early 1980's, right in here, the huge attack on organized labor, the eroding of
11:19am
labor's rights in many ways and -- and so wages started going down. and these are not just wages of union people. these are wages of all working people. all working people. that's why i say, it's not just union members who have benefited from the strength of organized labor. everyone in the middle class benefited from it. so throughout most of the 20th century, labor unions led the push for higher wages, for pensions, health care benefits and safer working conditions. the gains won by unionized workers served to lift wages, benefits and working conditions for nonunionized workers as well. millions of middle-class americans who never thought about joining a union have received very considerable benefits from the labor moveme movement. i mentioned, i always ask people, how did we get the 40-hour work week,
11:20am
time-and-a-half overtime, paid vacations, worker safety? this didn't happen because management voluntarily gave it. people struggled for this, fought for this, marched for this. and many got beat up, many lost their jobs and livelihoods fighting just for a 40-hour work week, or for time-and-a-half overtime, paid vacations. and yet it's benefited the entire middle class of america. that's why i say we need a -- when republicans are doing an assault openly on organized labor, they're assaulting the middle class in america. they're dragging down the middle class in america. as the war on unions has succeeded in dramatically shrinking the share that is unionized, this has reduced the ability of most workers across the entire economy to negotiate increases in wages and salaries. the result is the growing
11:21am
imbalance that professor krugman talks about -- skyrocketing corporate profits at a time when personal income is stagnant or declining. the fruits of the expanding economy have accrued overwhelmingly to corporations, their executives, executive pay, shareholders leaving workers behind. despite skyrocketing profits and despite the fact that corporations and shareholders have taken the lion's share of income from the growing g.d.p., corporations are still demanding lower rates of taxation and huge additional advantages regarding corporate taxes. so corporations get more and more of g.d.p. at the same time they say, we don't want to pay more taxes. we want to pay fewer taxes. corporations paid an average effective rate of just 7.9% in 2011. 7.9%. now, wasn't it mr. romney, the republican nominee, who said
11:22am
corporations are people too? well, i bet you a lot of people in this country would like to pay 7.9% of their income in taxes. but corporations are still not satisfied. they want even lower rates, even as the middle class and the poor are asked to make major sacrifices -- major sacrifice sacrifices -- as we address this so-called fiscal cliff and the real deficit that we do have. you see, very high-income americans get most of their income from capital gains and dividends. the tax on that type of income is now 15%, the lowest percentage since the 1930's. i repeat, since the 1930's, the lowest percentage on capital gains and dividends is right now 15%. but until 2003 -- until 2003, dividends were always taxed at the same rate as regular income.
11:23am
now dividends are getting the same very generous treatment as capital gains. regular income rates were increased to 39.6%. so just think about that. wasn't until 2003 where we said, okay, capital gains, dividends, 15%. before dividends were always the same rate as regular income. so who gets -- who gets that? the wealthy. average working people don't have dividends, capital gains. republicans claim that economic calamity will occur if those rates go up, but let's look at recent history. when the 1993 tax bill passed, every republican here voted "no." many senate republicans predicted economic calamity if it passed. i was here. i remember those debates. you can look it up in the "record." however, in the five years after the passage of the clinton tax bill, 14 million jobs were
11:24am
created. by contrast, in the five years after the 2001 tax bill was passed that lowered the regular rate to 35%, only 4 million jobs were created. i'm not saying that raising taxes creates jobs, but raising tax rates does not kill jobs either. as we address the fiscal cliff, corporations and high-income individuals can afford to pay a greater fair share of federal revenue. in recent years, they've seen their incomes grow by huge sums. it would be grossly unfair to shift the burden to the middle class, which has always been deprived of its fair share of the growing economic pie in recent decades. mr. president, people here in washington are obsessing about what they call our fiscal cliff. well, we do, indeed, face fiscal challenges in the future, but i'm more concerned about the crisis of america's middle cla class, a middle class confronted
11:25am
by stagnant or declining wages, with jobs being shifted overse overseas, and with traditional benefits, such as pensions and health insurance being taken away. there is no doubt that the debate over collective bargaining rights will continue in michigan and across the country for months, probably years to come. and while there is little that i can do standing here in the united states senate to directly help the people of michigan today, i wanted to come to the floor today to tell them, a lot of us stand with you today, we'll stand with you tomorrow. a great injustice is being committed in the state of michigan. again, not just against union members but against the middle class. and i think we have to recognize what's happening in this count country. that this assault on union workers, collective bargaining, the assaults we've seen here from our republican friends on the national labor relations board, national mediation board,
11:26am
anything to take away from workers their right to bargain collectively. well, when you are a minimum-wage worker or just above and you're working in wal-mart, how much power do you think you've got against the walton family that's, what, are they the second or third rich nest the world now? or their corporate executives? you think you've got some bargaining power? you don't have anything. but if you're unionized and you have all of the union members with you, now you can bargain. now you get on a more even keel with wages and capital, to make sure that wages and capital don't get too far out of kilter. and that's simply what's happened. too much of our g.d.p. in the last 30 years has gone to capital and not enough to labor, and when that happens,
11:27am
middle-class america suffers. and when middle-class america suffers, we all suffer, because we know -- we know from history, we know from our american experiment that the american economy grows best from the middle out and not from the top down. so, again, mr. president, i -- i feel sorry for those workers who were caught off guard in michigan. i feel sorry for the middle class in michigan, those whose rights are being taken away to be able to bargain collectively and have all join in on that, but we stand steadfast in our support for the rights of working people and for the inherent, the inherent right of people to be able to join together, to form an association or a trade union and to bargain
11:28am
collectively for their wages, hours and conditions of employment. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. harkin: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
11:29am
11:30am
r. quorum call:
11:31am
11:32am
mr. toomey: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania is recognized. mr. toomey: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: wort. mr. toomey: thank you, mr. president. i rise this morning to address legislation that's under
11:33am
consideration, the extension of what is known as the t.a.g. program, the acronym stands to be the transaction account guarantee. i want to discuss in a little bit and the reasons for my opposition to the extension of this program. first, a little bit of history about this. many people are familiar with the fdic insurance program. it is a longstanding program that provides a limited guarantee on bank die posits. actually, for a very long period of time, for i think it was over 25 years starting in 19 0erb8gs the limit on the dollar amount -- starting in 1980, the limit on the dollar amount that would get this fdic guarantee wrasse -- was $100,000. that was raised to $250,000 during the financial crisis of 2508 and then conventually this new program was tran -- which provides on limited guarantee,
11:34am
there is no limit whatsoever, for a large category of deposits, not all deposits but all noninterest-bearing transaction deposits which is a long way of saying pretty much checking accounts, although it would include other things. so, as you might imagine, there are many large corporations, municipals, very wealthy individuals who have these large accounts and today those accounts are guaranteed, without limit, and the proposal that we have is to extend this guarantee, which is set to expire on december 31, to extend it for two more years. now, let me be clear about one thing right off the bat. this is a taxpayer-provided guarantee. the taxpayers are on the hook for these deposits. and if anybody has any doubt about that i would refer them to the fdic's web page -- the home page of the fdic's web site
11:35am
states very clearly that fdic inurns is backed by the full faith and credit of the united states government. obviously tha that means the taxpayers. so the american taxpayers are on the hook for the full amount of these transaction guarantees. so, let me explain why i think this is problematic. and the first reason is a simple one. we're not in a financial crisis anymore. we've got a miserable economy, but we certainly don't have a freefall fiscal disaster with financial institutions collapsing. we don't have the fall of 2008 anymore. there's actually quite a lot of stability in financial institutions. and you could have a very interesting debate about whether this was ever a good idea, but i don't understand how you can justify it now, in an environment where -- that doesn't even faintl faintly rese the crisis circumstances of 2008. and if we're going to extend it now for two more years when
11:36am
there's clearly no need for it, it certainly seems to me to suggest an interest in making this a permanent feature of the american banking system -- permanent, unlimited, guarantees the socialization of deposits in country this country, which i think is a terrible idea. secondly, this a big contingent liability for taxpayers. it's about $1.5 trillion in deposits right now that fall into this category and are being guaranteed and would continue to be guaranteed if the guarantee were extended. it's also worth 2340e9in notings mostly benefits the big banks. big banks have a disproportionate share of accounts. 19 of the big banks hold two-thirds of all the deposits in accounts that are guaranteed under the t.a.g. program. i would argue that there's something maybe even worse than all of this about this. i believe that the very
11:37am
existence of the t.a.g. program actually increases the risk of bank failures. and here's the reason why. in the absen absence of these unlimited guarantees, a corporation or a municipal or a wealthy individual or an institution making a large deposits, an amount that exceeds the limited fdic's traditional guarantee, such an institution is going do its due diligence on the strength of the bank. it's going to want to understand that this bank is properly run, it's prudently managed, and that due diligence is a discipline that the market imposes on the banking system. the banks have to prove to potential depositors that they're well-run, sensible, and prudent and aren't taking too much risk in order for the depositors to be confident that tell a be able to get their -- that they'll be able to get their money back. so that's a very important mechanism that imposes a dispalestinian that helps to keep banks -- that imposes a
11:38am
discipline that helps to keep banks doing important things. with this unlimited transaction guarantee, nobody has to worry about whether the bank is well run, because the government -- the taxpayer is there to return all their money, if the bank messes up. and that removes that very important discipline and in the proficiency i think, increases the -- and in the process, i think increases the risk that more institutions, more banks would fail because they're not held to a high standard and the taxpayers would be picking up an even larger tab than what some might project. i would also argue that the premiums syste systematically underfund this program. but the banks would be adamantly insisting that they have the option to opt out if this weren't be subsidized. the fact is, it is subsidized. so the taxpayer is not even getting, in my view, an adequate premium for the risk they're
11:39am
take, not that they should be in the business of taking this risk in the first place. the last point i'd make about the banks is, i don't think this is good for the banks themselves because this is the kind of government program that inevitably leads to a lot of people in this town thinking they've got the right to force the banks to do whatever they want to do, including giving away goods and services. and it is justified on the growfntdzgrounds that, well, tha reasonable thing for us to ask the banks because we the taxpayers, we the government provide them with this guarantee. so i think this is not in the interests of the banks themselves. i will tell you i am sympathetic to the argument that some of my friends in the community banking world have made, the argument that with dodd-frank, we codified too big to fail, we designated a whole category of institutions, we called them
11:40am
systemically important financial institutions. most people see that as another way of saying, too big to fail. and having codified that, our community bankers argue that that gives these banks an unfair competitive advantage in attracting depositors. i'm thet tyke that argument. but -- i'm sympathetic to that argument but it's bad idea to counter one government policy with another one. secondly, what we need do is reform dodd-frank. we need to do a lot in reforming dodd-frankfrank, in my view. that's the way to deal with this perception of a competitive advantage. we ought to be providing a lost regulatory relief for community banks. i say that as someone who's been involved in the community banking century personally. and i also would suggest that there are other ways that community banks can successfully compete against the large banks other than about this guarantee of deposits. my last point, mr. president, is
11:41am
that last year we ran a deficit of $1.1 trillion. this coming year, unfortunately, it looks like we're likely to do something like that again. this bill violates the budget control act, the cap, the limit that we put on spending. it exceeds that. it creates a new amount of spending above and beyond what was contemplated there. and i think that is a huge problem in and of itself. so i would oppose this legislation on the substance of it, but in particular i am objecting to the fact that it does exceed this budgetary authority. so, mr. president, at the appropriate time, i intend to raise a budget point of order. if that is now, i will do it now. and i -- the presiding officer: morning business business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of s. 3637, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number
11:42am
554, s. 3637, a bill to temporarily extend the transaction account guarantee program and for other purposes. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania is recognized. mr. toomey: mr. president, the pending measure, senate bill 3637, the transaction account guarantee act, exceeds the banking committee's section 302-a allocation of new authority authority and outlays deemed by the budget control act. therefore, i raise a point of order against this measure pursuant to section 03023-f of the congressional budget act of 1974. the presiding officer: the senior senator from south dakota is recognized. mr. johnson: mr. president, pursuant to section 904 of the congressional budget act of 1974, i move to waive all applicable sections of that act for purposes of the pending measure and ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be.
11:43am
yeas and nays are ordered. under the previous order, the time until 12:00 noon will be equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees prior to a vote on the motion to waive the budget point of order. mr. corker: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee is recognized. mr. corker: i support the budget point of order that's been raised. but let me just make a point here. i had an amendment that would have capped this budget point of order from -- that would have kept this budget point of order from being a problem. and the reason that we are where we are is that both republicans and democrats had amendments to this bill, the ones that we put forth would have solved this budget point of order. but because my amendment has not been heard, the gentleman from pennsylvania has raised this budget point of order, and the fact is that i hope it will be sustained. bur what's a shame -- what's the shame of all of this is that
11:44am
both democrats and republicans had amendments to this bill. the amendments that i put forth, i think, would have carried the day. it would have allowed the fdic to actually charge enough money fort point of order that's been raised. but the amendment has not been heard. the leader filled the tree and, therefore, no amendments -- not republican amendments, not democrat amendments -- could have been heard. the area ohm i had, which would have -- the other amendment i had, which would have helped either more or added to the solution, is the fact that we could have made this program voluntary. so if there are community banks around the country that wanted to participate in this programming, they could have done so on a voluntary basis. so two amendments -- one that would have allowed the -- would have for force forced the fdic o actually charge enough known make this account actuarial sound, that amendment is not being heard. an amendment to allow this to be voluntary, so that if there are
11:45am
community banks that are struggling and feel like they need to protect these accounts and still keep them in their bank, they could have actually paid the actuarial sound amount to make that occur. but neither one of those amendments have been heard. so i would just say to everybody in this body, that is tired of this place not working because neither side of the aisle has the opportunity to vote for amendments, to have amendments heard and to be voted operation i woul-- and to be voted on, i d say to both sides of the aisle, we absolutely should vote to uphold this point of order and hope when we come back next year, both republicans and democrats have the opportunity to represent their constituents back home by offering amendments that can actually be voted on in this body. so i thank the gentleman for raising the point of order. i wish we could have made this work for our country in an appropriate way. but would what we're going to have today is just a simple vote. by say this -- and i probably
11:46am
shouldn't -- the only reason we are voting on this amendment, the only reason, is that my friends on the other side of the aisle know that dodd-frank has hurt community bankers throughout this country and they're trying to throw a bone out to community bankers across this country, and they're trying to get us to vote against it, and that's not the way this place should work. i've got amendments that would have fixed this bill, would have made it work for community bankers, and we could have gone forward. the only reason we're doing it this way is because my friends on the other side of the aisle know that the provisions in dodd-frank are hurting community bankers and they're trying to throw out a bone. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi is recognized. mr. wicker: i wonder if you will yield to me on this very point. would the gentleman from tennessee yield? mr. corker: absolutely. mr. wicker: i thank the senator from tennessee for making this point. i have an amendment to this boil
11:47am
bill that by like to have been heard. it strikes a middle ground between the unlimited per account liability and the $250,000 that we've traditionally had. it's a modest compromise, an alternative, and it won't be considered because of the very practice that my friend from tennessee is mentioning. and it's not only our amendments. i just came in in the tail end of the gentleman's remarks, but there are democratic amendments that deserve to be heard. in this bill, senator udall has an amendment, he's a member of the majority party, and it's a well reasoned amendment that deserves to be considered and heard. but because the distinguished majority leader has chosen to
11:48am
fill the amendment tree and offer only his select amendments, i'm deprived from the ability that i think a representative of the several states should have, and that is to bring forth and idea and have it heard. i might not be able to get a majority on it, and senator udall might not prevail, but we deserve to be heard. this has been the greatest deliberative body in the world. that's what i heard before i came over here from the house of representatives. but it hasn't turned out that way. the majority leader time and time again fills the amendment trees, thereby preventing any of the other 99 senators from offering amendments. congressional research service has identified 40 instances in which opportunities for debating and offering amendments already have been limited by the senate majority leader by filling or
11:49am
partially filling the amendment tree. now, one more point, and then i'll yield back to my friend from tennessee. we're going to miss the services, and the independence of the distinguished senator from maine, senator olympia snowe. i think anyone in this body would have to admit that senator snowe has been even-handed, bipartisan, often nonpartisan, but she has objected to this very practice by this very majority leader, and i think it's destructive to the overall process of the senate. in the specific words of retiring senator olympia snowe -- quote -- "first and foremost, the senate should have the ability to debate more than the three amendments the majority leader is allowing. it is therefore imperative that senate deliberations on the defense bill be conducted
11:50am
without limitations and in a manner that allows for the consideration of all related amendments that senators may wish to offer." so i feel aggrieved that my little amendment is not even going to get any more debate than these few moments right now. i know the senator from tennessee feels the same way, and undoubtedly senator udall would prefer a vote and debate on his amendment. we can fix this senate. we can get back to the leadership we had under mansfield and mitchell of maine and lott of mississippi, and other majority leaders, and we can move legislation along, but not if we continue this -- this abuse of the process by filling the amendment tree. i'll be voting with the senator and with the distinguished senator from pennsylvania on the point of order, because we need to draw a bright red line there.
11:51am
but beyond that, we may get on this issue at some 0 ooh point. i hope the senate can get back to an orderly debate on matters of substance and i thank my friend, the senator from tennessee, for yielding to me on that point. i yield back to him. mr. corker: i thank you for your comments and i'd like to yield to the senator from pennsylvania. i have a couple more comments but go ahead, you're taking the lead on it. mr. too many -- mr. toomey: these are very well made points about the importance of having an opportunity to actually debate and try to improve a bill on the floor. one of the things that disturbs me is that i see a pattern here. and it's playing out today, but this isn't the first time. this is part -- this is all of a piece of not having a budget resolution for three consecutive years, the majority party doesn't want to have to come down and actually cast votes. because if there is a budget
11:52am
resolution on the floor there surely will be amendments because our states -- and we all come from different places and have different ideas and we want to have our constituents have a chance to have their say. and the majority party apparently doesn't want to have to cast votes. i think that's part of the reason there hasn't been a single appropriation bill on there floor which is a shocking abdication of our responsibility. here we are in mid december, and while the committee has reported out i think if not every appropriation bill, the vast majority of them, not a single one has been brought down here, and then on bill after bill, we see this happen. now, i hear the criticism that, well, we republicans won't allow the body to get onto the bill. the motion to proceed passed. the cloture motion passed. we're on the bill. despite that, there is no opportunity to have a meaningful, substantive debate about ways this could be improved and changed. it's just not possible. because the distinguished majority leader refuses to permit it. this is the dysfunction of this
11:53am
body in my view, and it is a pattern and it's a problem. i, too, had a couple of amendments i would like to have had an opportunity to discuss. i would just make one other point. on the few occasions when the majority leader has actually permitted an open amendment process, the farm bill comes to mind, the postal reform bill, defense authorization, we started with a huge long list of amendments and people said okay, that's too many, i'll give up some of mine. we got to a manageable amount, we dealt with them, we had final passage and all three of those bills passed. so the process works when it's allowed to take place. but this is not a very good function. the last point i would make is just to urge my colleagues to remember when we're running trillion-dollar deficits as it is, the last thing we ought to be doing is increasing the size of those deficits with a taxpayer bailout of banks and that's what this ends up amounting to. so i urge my colleagues to sustain this point of order,
11:54am
and i yield back to the gentleman from tennessee. mr. corker: i'll be a little more brief this time and i thank you very much for the point of order that you've made but also the comments. we have some people on our side of the aisle that i know because of things that have happened in this body previously, there have been some amendments i know that maybe some people feel like we're harmful to banks that they may have supported in the past and maybe this is a way to do something that sort of makes it even, if you will. i would just say to my friends on this side of the aisle that may have some of those feelings, we have two amendments here that i know there's actually multiple amendments, but two amendments that would actually make this -- this bill work. one that would cause the fdic to actually charge the rate necessary to take into account the losses that are going to occur. it would seem to most most
11:55am
everybody, i think it might pass by unanimous consent. i can't imagine why people in this body would not like the fdic to have to charge the appropriate amount. secondly, to make this program voluntary. a lot of banks that candidly don't want to participate in this. they don't want to pay the fee. so you could make this voluntary. so to the friends on my side i would say look, if we could hear these amendments, we could make this bill work for everybody. i don't like these kind of guarantee programs generally speaking, if you want to know the truth, but i'd be willing if my amendments passed, to support this bill. you i do want go back to my last point. a point of order has been raised. the way this bill is now constructed, it violates the budget control act. this body has voted to uphold budget points of order on some pretty tough issues, and i
11:56am
think the point the senator from pennsylvania is making, is we're going to violate a budget point of order to create a bailout for banks? i don't know. to me that's not exactly what we need to be doing. we can fix this if we could hear our amendments to make it so it's not a bailout for banks by just making it actuarily sound and knowing they're covering their costs theps. but the majority leader will not let us do that. so again, i hope that all of us -- candidly, i would hope that my friends on the democratic side of the aisle would vote to uphold this budget point of order, knowing that if we could hear all the amendments today, we could actually make this sound. so i would hope that we would unify as a body and say enough, enough to the majority leader filling the tree and not allowing the senate to operate. let's get beyond that and i hope, again, we will support
11:57am
the budget point of order. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama is recognized. mr. sessions: mr. president, the way we've arrived at this point is the congressional budget office, our chosen authority on budget matters, has concluded that the legislation violates the budget. and they've submitted analysis to that effect. that has been provided to the chairman of the budget committee, senator conrad, an honorable democratic chairman of the committee, and he and his staff have examined it and they've concluded that it does. they've advised the parliamentarian. senator toomey has now raised the budget point of order and based on the report from the chairman of the budget committee, the parliamentarian will rule that this legislation spends more than we agreed to spend under the budget control act limitations, and will
11:58am
therefore sustain it. the people who are promoting the legislation will seek to waive the budget, ignore the fact that it violates our spending limits, and pass the bill anyway. i think that's bad. this will be -- we've had a series of these votes. it's time for the people who advance legislation in the body to be careful and when they submit legislation, that it stays within the budget. and we just block this legislation that violates it. last august, we proposed -- august a year ago, congress agreed to certain spending limitations, not enough in my view, but some noticeable limitations. but -- we would still spend more every year, but limit the growth. but regardless, it limited, there was a limit on how much we
11:59am
could spend, whether it's up or down, it limited it and this would be in violation of it. i wish we could get to a point where legislation was fixed before it got to the floor, and was in compliance with the budget. and i would say to my colleagues, as ranking republican on the budget committee, you can get the score, c.b.o. will give you the score and there's plenty of opportunity to have this information before the vote occurs, before the bill comes before the floor. mr. president, i thank the chair and would yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: